Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 13, Home in Warrensburg

Well, we made it back last night, after a 500 mile drive from Guymon. Despite the long drive, we did make a couple of "sightseeing" stops. First one was at Mullinville, KS, home of a folk artist who makes what he calls "totem poles" out of various pieces of metal. They mostly have a message of some sort, and he doesn't like politicians very much. I'll post a few pictures after I recover.

Next stop was in Greensburg, KS - the place that was hit by the massive tornado a couple of years ago and is rebuilding "green." Almost all the debris has been removed and new houses are going up, but the landscape is still barren. Dillon's has opened a combo supermarket/C-store on a major corner, and the new school is going up.

Hit Warrensburg about 4:30 PM, ate dinner & shopped a bit, got Quicken caught up and crashed. Still need more sleep - and to free up some memory on the laptop.

Our slightly-used '09 Malibu performed very well and was comfortable. Here's the stats:
Total miles: 3809.
Gas Mileage: 31.3 mpg
Avg speed: 50 mph

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 12, Guymon OK

A long day, today. En route to Taos we stopped at an overlook for the Rio Grande gorge bridge outside of Taos. Then we walked around, bought t-shirts, sat on the plaza & looked at art. Then it was up the hill, down the hill, up the hill and down again to Cimarron, where we visited the museum at the Philmont Boy Scout ranch. We had been reading about Lucien Maxwell who put the whole property together in the 19th Century, then the area of the ranch ended up under the ownership of Waite Phillips (same guy whose Tulsa house is the Philpott Art Museum). Yes, he was the brother of the man who started Phillips Petroleum and an oilman in his own right.

Drove through a lot of empty space - not a single town for over 90 miles from Springer & Clayton, and not many between there and Guymon. We did run through the edge of a thunderstorm - yes, the 4-cyl Malibu runs easily at 85 mph on level ground as we tried to get through the hail we were caught in. One dent in the roof. Damn!

Tomorrow, who knows. We may drive straight through home, or we may take an extra day. Depends a lot on how I feel in the AM.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 11, Alamosa

Today is Friday, and we're in Alamosa CO. The prime purpose of today's journey was to visit Madge & Larry Harrah at their 'cottage' in Platoro, CO, elevation 9760. But first, we stopped in Chama NM to take a look at the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR making up their daily train. Then it was up a long gravel (speaking generously) road to Platoro. This was a gold/sliver mining community off and on from around 1900 (I think) until 1970s, when the mine flooded.

Platoro Reservoir is America's highest man-made lake, not real big but very scenic. They bought us lunch at the local lodge - rustic indeed. When we left, another long drive on gravel roads past 12,000 ft mountains. Scenic, of course. The San Juan mountains are volcanic in origin so Sandra picked up some rocks. I hope that's the last of the rocks as we're running out of space for them.

Tonight in Alamosa we ate a Mexican buffet dinner at Cavillo's. We're stuffed. Highly recommend it if you ever visit Alamosa.

Tomorrow, it's on to Taos, Cimarron and after that I'm not sure.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 10, Pagosa Springs

Here we are in Pagosa Springs, CO, after another day looking at rocks. After a real breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast & hashbrowns) at the Moab Diner, it was off to Arches NP. Did I say looking at rocks? Red rocks, yellowish rocks, rocks in spires, rocks with long crevices, rocks with holes in them (big holes, naturally). Last time we were here in 2002 our visit was cut short by a violent thunderstorm - felt sorry for the people out hiking who didn't watch the skies. This time it was dry, not even clouds for photographic background.

Then we took a two hour drive back to Monticello and on into Colorado to Dolores. Big surprise - lots of farming in a relatively flat area between mountain ranges; some wheat & alfalfa, but they were harvesting a cereal grain while green - maybe oats? The stop was Anasazi Cultural Center outside of Dolores, the BLM's only museum. A big dam was put on the Dolores River, and the ancient sites were excavated and/or documented first. It also had an art display by the Plein Air Artists of the Four Corners and a display on the Old Spanish Trail trade network from Santa Fe to California.

Next stop, Durango. Traffic was terrible and the train was not in the station. Skipped the tourist traps and went to Walmart to get some things for Madge & Larry Harrah, who we'll visit tomorrow. Then to Pagosa Springs, home of the Fred Harman Art Museum. He was a self-taught artist and illustrator, western subjects. He also did comic strips - ever hear of Red Ryder? I had a Daisy Red Ryder bb gun and broke my glasses just like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story." He was good!

Tomorrow it's on to Chama, through some 10,000 ft passes, and up a forest service road to the old mining town of Platoro (from the name, can you guess what they hoped to find?) & a visit with Madge & Larry Harrah. Madge wrote the award-winning children's book on Blind Boone, and many others. We'll end the day with a Mexican buffet at Alamosa.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 9, Moab Utah

Here we are in Moab after another full (& hot) day on the road. We left early without breakfast and took a look at the Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park - river meanders entrenched in a deep canyon. Then we climbed the side of a high mesa using the Moki Dugway, a set of gravel switchbacks, and went on to Natural Bridges National Monument. Lots of nice views, but little contrast in rock colors.

We hit Blanding about 10:30, so visited Edge of the Cedars State Park - one room displayed horse pictures by a couple of sisters, another had photos of various rock art around the region - with stories of each. Upstairs showed artifacts as well as historic interpretation. They had panels describing how local people had made outstanding finds and had reported them for preservation instead of looting (Hillerman book, A Thief of Time). Then we had lunch.

Drove on to the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park. It's a long drive into the park, but the route takes you by Newspaper Rock, a panel full of rock art (the pictures is a small portion). More red rock. Sandra "rescued" a lady left at the visitor center (with two lapdogs) by her husband who was helping someone who got stuck in sand. The rescue? Giving her a cigarette.

Got into Moab about 4:30 (early for us) and had a good Mexican dinner. Then caught up pictures and the blog, and get ready for tomorrow - Arches NP, and drive on to Pagosa Springs CO.

Day 8, Monument Valley

Gee, I'm not posting this until Wednesday evening - the motel in Mexican Hat had very limited bandwidth, hard to even check email. At Page, we took a Navajo-guidedd tour of Antelope Canyon slot canyons, really something. Needed more time and a better tripod to take really sharp, focused pictures. We rode in a contraption with 11 other people in the back of a pickup truck, which turned into a really bumpy ride; Sandra loved it. The big excitement was a baby rattler in the canyon.

Then, it was off to Monument Vally. We stopped in Kayenta at the Blue Cup (I think) for a Navajo Taco, really outstanding. When we got to Monument Valley, a Navajo woman offered us a tour of the back country for $65/person. No thanks, we'll drive the open area ourselves (maybe I should have offered her half that). It was definitely picture time, trying to get better versions of what we took in 2004. We met some folks from Germany who were on the same trip as us, as well as a Navajo who was originally from the Lukachukai area & knew the people at the trading post whom we met on previous trips (& whose daughter waited on us at a casino buffet near Phoenix). Small world revisited.

Spent the night at Mexican Hat Motel, in Mexican Hat (naturally). It overlooked the San Juan River gorge, which we could have walked down to if we hadn't been worn out from previous adventures. The only drawback was the terrible bandwidth problem; they were on dish which can't handle the kind of traffic they had. Dinner? A Navajo taco.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 7, 7/13/09

Here we are in Page, AZ, where it's 9 PM when it's 11 to us. Today's prime attraction was Grand Canyon north rim. As usual, lots of walking at altitude & heat, and lots of pictures. I said before I left that I'd probably take around 400 pictures; I'm already at over 600 with many photogenic stops. We started the day at Kanab, 3500 ft, got up to 9000 at the north rim, down to under 4000, back up to well over 6000, back down to about 3400 at Lee's Ferry, up to over 6000 crossing the Echo Cliffs, and back down to under 4000 at Page.

Did I say Lee's Ferry? Yes, we visited this historic site where we talked to some folks who will run the river tomorrow. 6 day trip is about $2200/person, but sure looks inviting.

Tomorrow will be Antelope Canyon (slot canyons, very scenic) if we can arrange a trip. Then on to Monument Valley where we hope to get a guided trip again. Tomorrow night, Mexican Hat UT on the San Juan. That looks like it'll be only 200 miles, as opposed to 260 today. Today's gas mileage was well over 30 mpg, with all the downhill travel.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 6, 7/12/09

Greetings from Kanab, AZ, the gateway to the North Rim. Today was red rock day, at altitude. Lots of climbing and descending, with great views on the way up and down. Saw deer, cattle (open range) and lots of red rocks. Took much longer than I'd anticipated, so we skipped Petrified Forest SP and shortened our stay at Kodachrome Basin. Most of the afternoon was spent at Bryce Canyon NP, where the two displayed pictures were taken (along with over 100 more shots). Clouds were excellent, providing good contrast of light & shadow - plus a few raindrops.

Two good meals today - a home-made pizza for lunch in Tropic and some good Mexican food in Kanab.

Tomorrow is north rim and I bet I take another 150 pics.

Today, 256 mi, 1782 for the trip.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Day 5

Dinosaurs to rocks - another great day of touring Utah. Our two dino stops were the Eastern Utah College museum in Price, and the Museum of the San Rafael in Castle Dale. We skipped 9 Mile Canyon because of tiredness & time, and a good thing we did, since we spent 3 hours going thru Capitol Reef (wow!).

Surprises of the day - canyons - between Duchesne and Price, I-70 & Fremont, each topped with a 9000' pass. Indian lands - Uintah & Ouray (Northen Ute). Deep coal mines (Carbon County, duh!), "Scones" at a pizza place in Castle Dale (reminded me of sopapillas with honey & powdered sugar). Don't eat at Casa Rio in Vernal (don't ask why) - matter of fact, skip Mexican in northern Utah/Colorado.

The weather was partly cloudy, which made for some interesting photography. We keep trying to reproduce the red rock & spectacular clouds we took in '02 (see our 2002 shots).

Tomorrow the big attraction is Bryce Canyon. We'll try to stop at some state parks - Petrified Forest, Kodachrome Basin & Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Tomorrow night is Kanab. Today we did 260 miles.

Day 4, Vernal UT

Well, actually it was yesterday that we went thru Dinosaur National Monument and got lots of sun and saw lots of rocks. No lunch. Took over 90 pictures between the scenery at the east end, dinosaur stuff at the west end, and a museum in Vernal. We overdid it a bit (understatement), but survived. I can't believe how built up these towns are, mostly around 10,000 population or less, compared to Warrenbsburg.

Had Mexican food last night, but I don't think it's a good idea in Utah! Decided to be easy today and skip 9-mile canyon. I'm not sure we (or the car) can handle it. It's museums in Price and then on to Torrey and Capitol Reef, where we'll take lots of pictures of red rocks. And maybe post a few.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 3, Rocky Mountain NP

A real high today - about 12,000 feet along Trail Ridge Road. Hit every visitor center & museum, took lots of pictures. Pretty tired puppies tonight. Windy & cold up there in the alpine region; good thing we wore jeans instead of shorts.

At Steamboat Springs we took a walk to see a spectacular waterfall. The rest of the town was a major tourist trap. Drove thru lots of other mountains, some 9K foot passes, saw the upper reaches of the Colorado River.

We're now at the Holiday Inn in Craig, which is larger & busier than we expected. Big industry around here seems to be cutting the top off a small mountain to feed power plants. Dinner was at El Ranchero; nobody else there but great food.

Tomorrow is Dinosaur National Monument. More pictures!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 2, Hays to Loveland

Left Hays at 7:30 AM CDT and drove to Oakley KS. Its claims to fame are the Fick Fossil Museum and Buffalo Bill. The Fick is a typical local museum enhanced by a good collection of local marine fossils. Mrs. Fick 'painted' scenes using fossil shark teeth. There's a big statue of Buffalo Bill shooting a bison, based on the fact this is where he won a buffalo-shooting with another claimant to the name.

Then it was on to Colby, where another couple had collected a massive number of things - call them eclectic collectors - china, dolls, dresses, toys, and more than I can count. Sandra had a ride on the mechanical pony that once stood outside the local grocery store, a ride on merry-go-round, and an abbreviated game of hopscotch.

Next stop was the Kit Carson County Carousel in Burlington CO. Wow! Hand carved and painted animals from the early 20th Century and a mechanical organ. It works. On our second (yes second) ride, the background music was "Dixie" and I rode a dapple gray I immediately dubbed "Traveler" - Sandra rode a paint.

Took some back roads to Loveland rather than going thru Denver & fighting I-70/25. Got here at 5 PM MDT. It was mid-nineties and didn't feel particularly hot. The HIE has a water slide in the pool - what fun!

Two good Mexican meals today. Tanking up on the good stuff. Tomorrow is Rocky Mountain National Park, with a stay across the mountains at Craig. 411 miles today, 776 total, and we're getting about 30 MPG. Gas prices are close to $2.50 here. I'll watch the sunset behind the mountains & sign off for today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 1, Hays KS

Here we are at a Comfort Inn in Hays KS. We bypassed KC by going through Ottawa & Council Grove, before picking up I-70 at Salina. Lots of empty roads thru the Flint Hills and beyond. Saw oil wells & wind farms. Had a burger for lunch at Country Cafe in Gypsum KS. Gas prices were around $2.40 (unless you were right on the interstate).

Hays is slightly bigger than Warrensburg, but seems to be much larger - guess it relates to their being a regional commercial center. It's about 2000 ft altitude, so we'll be going up a lot more tomorrow. At Hays, we drove thru downtown, visited the Historical Society museum, and Ft. Hays State Hist. Site. The latter was a large fort but only a few buildings left; it's where Custer left from for the Washita. The high point was the Steinberg Museum - dinosaurs! Gotta see it! Even an animatronic T-rex with a kindly expression behind those ferocious teeth.

Dinner was a Mexican restaurant next door to the hotel - El Dos de Oros. Good food & way too much.

Tomorrow: Fick Museum in Oakley KS (more fossils), carousel in Burlington CO, and lots of backroad driving to Loveland.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Starting a new blog

This will be our travel blog, where we post comments and pictures of our travels. We won't post them on our old cedarbnb blog, which is now reserved for the Bed & Breakfast.